I have been very lucky and actually won work as a direct result of networking. This doesn’t happen on the first networking meeting. Just turning up and telling people who you are and what you do is not enough. You have to follow-up. Here is what works for me.
1. Connect via LinkedIn with every contact you make during the networking meeting. This means you have to give them your card and collect theirs! Most people will give you their card when you offer yours.
2. Set up a meeting with every contact that you “connect” with during the meeting. For me, it is a feeling of “I could work with this person”. If I get that feeling, I follow-up with a suggestion to meet over coffee and share more information about what we do.
3. Have three opportunities in mind during the follow-up meeting. Do you and your contact have complimentary services? Do you have business contacts that might be of interest to each other? It is an acceptable practice to expect to receive or give an introduction fee and has the added benefit of providing your client with additional services. Do you have mutual areas of interest that you could develop together? For example, working together on a tender for a project you would not be able to deliver alone. Try it, it works!
The Week. I heard that I am going to be working with a Girl’s School in Braintree for my Business champion voluntary service. I have also been marketing the next Highflyingdivas Forum to be held at the Charity Essex Coalition for Disabled People in Chelmsford. This will be on the 23rd November. See http://hfd1.eventbrite.com I co-worked on a tender and received a rejection on another joint proposal! Did, however put in a complimentary service addition to a contact’s proposal. On Thursday I got up early to scrape the frost off the car and attend the IoD’s Business breakfast meeting with Paul Spires and Justin Urquhart Stewart presenting on financial planning and the CSR results. Very entertaining and informative. These IoD events are open to non-member guests and are held every month with a different and interesting topic of discussion. www.iod.com
Reading for the week. Why is everyone suddenly an “Entrepreneur”? I notice that we don’t have Owner-managers, sole traders or business owners any more.. I thought the term Entrepreneur refferred to those highly creative individuals who develop multiple brilliant business ideas and successfully sell their enterprises on a regular basis. The book for this week is “E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It by Michael E. Gerber. The author points out the challenge of moving from being a technician i.e. delivery of service to a Manager. Apparently it was first published in 1986 and there are many other “E-….” accompanying books in the range. This one has 283 reviewers giving it 5 stars on Amazon. I enjoyed it and it has some basic valuable points that I trust will ensure that my business does in fact, work.
Lighter Reflections. My son starts his half-term holiday this week. He has the luxury of attending a private school. This means that we pay more for him to have longer holidays than children from State Schools. As I hear of other parents scurrying around to organise holiday dates, outings, entertainment and so on, it makes me wonder how this generation of parents differs from earlier ones. Here I go …. in my day, it was understood by everyone that we would be bored during the holidays. That our parents would most likely be working and that we were expected to entertain ourselves. Furthermore, the level of expectation hovered around the zero mark for whatever parent participation was requested by the school. It was enough for our parents, well at least one, to drag themselves to the Parent/Teacher evening and the other one to sit through the interminably long and badly produced series of school plays. Now, our offspring regard their parents as an extra set of arms, legs and of course wheels. We clear their clothes off the floor, polish their shoes and the whole family goes out scouting for potential costumes for “Halloween” or “Book Day” or “National Costume Day” or whatever other excuse the school has for inflicting the double injury of creating alternative clothing and supping coinage for their poorly veiled attempts at increasing the coffers. The challenge is to produce an outfit that hits the balance between “well they only went out and bought that” and “they must have spent hours producing it”. Error number one – asking your little angel what they would like to wear. Something simple like a Toga? or something you could cobble together from last year’s effort? Oh no…..previous requests have included the production of a crocodile’s head, the full outfit of a Ronan rider or the Witch-King from Lord of the Rings. I failed miserably in my plea to him this year that he go as a Death Eater from Harry Potter (the Witch-King gear was very similar). No, he wanted to be Hornblower, the midshipman. To be fair, he doesn’t whine or sulk or throw a tantrum. Rather he has a silent expectation based on his profound trust and belief that his parents will provide the goods. This is worse. How can you destroy their faith in you? So, here is the picture of Captain Hornblower on Book Day. Did he appreciate it? Well yes and no. He loved the outfit but wasn’t at all impressed that everyone insisted on calling him Napoleon all that day and for the following week. Uneducated heathen rabble.